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The cash savings prize draw alternatives to NS&I’s Premium Bonds

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09/09/2020
For Brits looking for a buzz on their savings, prize draws give savers the chance to win a life-changing sum of money. Here are the alternatives to NS&I’s popular Premium Bonds.

More than 22 million people hold an NS&I Premium Bonds account, giving them the chance of winning a life-changing £1m each month.

Administered by National Savings & Investments (NS&I), Premium Bonds aren’t like normal savings accounts as they don’t pay interest. Instead the interest that should be paid (1.40%) is used to fund a monthly prize draw.

You can invest from £25 to £50,000 and cash is completely safe as it’s 100% backed by the Treasury.

Each £1 buys a bond with a unique number where you can win between £25 and £1m, or nothing at all.

NS&I said it’s seen record purchases for the fifth month in a row, totalling £8bn between March and July amid the coronavirus pandemic.

But with the current odds of each individual bond number winning any prize standing at 24,500 to one, savers may want to consider prize draw alternatives.

Family Building Society

The Family Building Society’s Windfall Bond was relaunched on 18 August after it was temporarily off-sale as the prize draw was updated.

There are currently 8,000 bonds in issue, and Family BS claims the odds of winning are almost six times better than with Premium Bonds.

However, savers need to deposit £10,000 per bond; additions aren’t allowed, and it has a 35-day notice period to access cash.

The money earns interest at the Bank of England base rate (currently 0.10%) and savers are entered into a prize draw on the 10th working day of each month to win up to £50,000 tax-free, split in the following way:

  • 15 prizes of £1,000
  • Three prizes of £2,500
  • Two prizes of £10,000
  • One prize of £50,000.

Family BS explains that each month, each qualifying bond is allocated one of 15,000 unique tickets with 21 winning tickets chosen at random. Each bond has approximately a 1 in 714 chance of winning a prize in the month’s draw and adds that even with one bond, the chance of winning a prize at least once in the first 12 draws equates to one in 60.

Since the first Windfall Bond prize draw was made in January 2015, there have been 336 prizes won by 383 customers (some bonds are held in joint names), with just over £2million in cash prizes paid out.

Halifax

The Halifax Savers Prize Draw offers £550,000 of prizes each month, with 1,600 people randomly selected to win the following:

  • Three savers win £100,000
  • 100 savers win £1,000
  • And 1,500 savers win £100.

Halifax said there have been 105,000 winners to date with more than £57m being paid out.

It’s free to enter and savers need a minimum of £5,000 in a qualifying personal savings accounts in a calendar month before each draw. It excludes cash held in children’s, business, charity or club accounts as well as money in current accounts.

But the minimum amount can be made up from savings held in both qualifying Halifax and the Bank of Scotland accounts and joint account holders can also take part.

You’ll need to register just once to be entered each month going forward. This can be done online, in branch or by calling the branch and the money needs to be held in qualifying accounts for the whole month before the draw takes places, usually held during the first three business days.

Halifax says the chance of winning each month changes, depending on how many entries it receives, but it gives away 1,603 prizes in the draw in a normal month.

Nationwide Building Society

Nationwide’s Start to Save account launched in February with the aim of getting people to save more.

Start to Save is an online, instant access, regular savings account paying 1% AER/gross (variable), which allows a balance increase of up to £100 per month.

To be eligible for the quarterly prize draws, savers need to increase their balance in the account by between £50 and £100 in each of the three calendar months leading up to the month of the prize draw.

Each draw will offer prizes of £100, with the total prize fund for each draw set at 1% of the total balance increase across all qualifying ‘Start to Save’ accounts in the lead up to the draw.

The first prize draw was held on Tuesday 21 July, with 17,901 accounts meeting the entry criteria. This generated a total prize fund of £45,800. A total of 458 winners each scooped the £100 prize.

The prize draws will then take place on 21 October, 22 January and 23 April. Nationwide says the chance of winning is “dependent on saving behaviour”, so the more people save, the bigger the prize fund and the more prizes on offer. However, it publicises a one in 39 chance of winning a £100 prize.

It also gives the following example: if 50,000 people all paid £150 into their accounts July and September, the total prize draw for October would be £75,000 equating to 750 chances to win £100.

Start to Save can be opened via Nationwide’s website or its mobile app with a minimum of 1p. it’s not available in Northern Ireland due to the way prize draws are regulated there. Savers can withdraw funds at any time.

‘Potential to win big’

Rachel Springall, finance expert at data site Moneyfacts, says: “Prize draws may appeal to savers who feel underwhelmed by the current selection of interest rates on offer in the savings market and are prepared to forego the top rates for a chance to win a cash prize.

“The potential to win big can draw in consumers who want to keep their money safe with those brands who are protected under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme. Savers may feel they have nowhere to turn to right now, so NS&I as a government-backed brand could be a trusted safe haven to invest their cash, but next to NS&I’s premium bonds there are some other alternatives.

“As with any investment it is vital that savers read up on any terms and conditions carefully and understand the workings of any prize draw as they may not be getting the best return on their cash, unless they are lucky and win a decent prize of course.”

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